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Scottish Oceans Institute


The Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) is located on the site of the original 'Gatty Marine Laboratory' by St Andrews' East Sands. The Gatty Marine Laboratory was opened in 1896 and has been continuously occupied except for the period between 1931 and the end of the Second World War. The laboratory has its origins in the government-funded St Andrews Fisheries Laboratory which was founded in 1884.  The laboratory built up strong research groupings in fish biology and marine ecology and by the early 1990s received the highest number of research grants in marine biology of any UK department. In 1997, a major £4.3 million extension to the building provided a modern lecture theatre and teaching laboratory, and research laboratories for immunological and muscle research. The major part of the new build was occupied by the NERC - sponsored Sea Mammal Research Unit which transferred from Cambridge in 1996. Today SMRU has over 60 staff and receives annual funding of £2.9 million from NERC, UK and foreign governments and the EU. Location on the Gatty site gave SMRU access to local seal populations and world class experimental facilities including a 40 m pool for investigating diving and foraging behaviour.


Main Services

Marine Facilities

  • Aquarium facilities for holding and experimenting on seals. Daily use of the whole facility with access to up to 6 animals, held to appropriate standards. The facility carries a licence to operate as a European animal experimental facility.

Technology Platforms

  • Provision of: (i) satellite and GSM relayed data loggers for deployment on marine mammals or gliders including measurement of pressure, salinity, temperature, fluorescence, turbidity depending up the configuration. For use in any port of the world.
  • Passive acoustic tags for marine mammals and
  • Passive acoustic monitoring equipment for remote monitoring of marine acoustic environments and real-time transmission of data to a ground station via GSM or satellite
  • 8 m seawater flume and ADV system
  • Field equipment and operators for sediment  geotechnical  and ecological survey (GIS mapping, side-scan sonar, sediment stability, invertebrate biodiversity, microphytobenthos diversity and biomass (fluorescence techniques).

Marine Biological Collections

  • Marine, freshwater and brackish aquarium facilities for holding and /or experimenting on algae, invertebrates and fish.

Access to ecosystems

  • Ecosystem access to North Sea rocky shore, sandy beach and estuarine habitats.


  • The use of a modern 100 m2 laboratory with access to advanced microscopes (light, confocal, ambient and cryo-SEM) and basic equipment for molecular biology and biochemical analysis can be provided. The unit of access is person days.

Supporting facilities

  • Research vessel 1. Daily use of a specialist, highly robust (6 m aluminium hulled) vessel for operation in shallow waters at high speeds. The vessel has been designed and equipped to capture seals, is transportable by road to any part of Europe and is accompanied by fully qualified crew.
  • Research vessel 2. Daily use of 5-m RIB equipped with hydrophone capability for tracking whales and dolphins in coastal regions. The vessel is transportable by road to any part of Europe and is accompanied by fully qualified crew.


  • Local accommodation and student residences available. Advice on request
Gatty Marine Laboratory
East Sands
St Andrews
KY16 8LB
United Kingdom
Parent Member Country: 
United Kingdom

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